Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Leah's Big Summer

Leah girl has had a big summer! It all started with finishing preschool.  Our girl spent two years at Easton Preschool, growing and developing, and I can't tell you how much we loved having her there. Easton is just one piece of the evidence of God's sovereignty in placing us in Norfolk. And this year she had an amazing teacher, Ms. Liane, who possesses the best attributes a teacher can have: kind and encouraging, innovative and experienced, and a great communicator who loves our girl. We feel so blessed to have had her for Leah's last year of preschool. We will miss Easton and Ms. Liane, but are so ready for kindergarten and a new school!
Each class got to perform a special song on the stage for the "moving on" ceremony.
Leah with Ms. Liane and Ms. Robin (the teacher's aide).

Summer is usually a difficult time for Leah. She really needs the structure and routine of school, which is something that is hard for Mommy to keep up for her. It was especially hard this summer, having a toddling little sister and a very pregnant mommy to try to coordinate along with our special girl! However, we managed to go and do something fun out of the house everyday, whether that was a trip to the zoo, the mall, the botanical garden, the museum, the downtown splash park, our neighborhood park, or our backyard. Daddy was especially helpful this summer. He made sure to be available to go with us whenever we left the house. And our Leah girl had the best summer she's had in years. We did not have nearly as many meltdowns as we normally do. We even went some days without a single tantrum!
Enjoying the summer sun in our backyard

Leah also had her annual check up in Iowa with both of her ophthalmologists. As I was almost 38 weeks pregnant, only Stephen and Leah went to these appointments. They had a special trip planned, flying together to Iowa, staying in a fun hotel with a big pool slide, going to her appointments, and flying back home to Mommy and Rebekah (or so they thought...). The trip started off as planned. They drove to D.C. (a three hour drive) to have a better chance of getting on a flight as stand by passengers and flew to Chicago, where they rented a car and drove the rest of the way to Iowa (about a 4 hour drive).  Leah is usually a great traveler, but she is so unpredictable and when she gets set off, its very difficult to calm her down. So, we decided to limit the amount of time on a plane. One of the hard things with having an almost nonverbal child is that we have to guess why she is upset, which can be hard to do. And being on a plane with nowhere to take a 5 year old who is having a tantrum can be stressful, to say the least. So, Stephen explained to the flight attendants about Leah, gave her tons of snacks to keep her occupied, and prayed for the best. And our girl did great!
Ready for take off!
Leah's annual check up in Iowa was with 2 different ophthalmologists: Dr. Wilkinson, who is in charge of functional vision (using the vision she has as best as she can) and Dr. Stone, who is a molecular ophthalmologist and geneticist, in charge of defining how her chromosomal translocation has impacted her development and what it means for her future. We found out last year, that Leah has a chromosomal translocation, meaning that two of her chromosome pairs exchanged segments. We also learned that this event is isolated to Leah and that it is believed to be the underlying reason for all of her disabilities. However, they have been unable to prove that, up to this point, so we have a new plan. During this visit, some of Leah's skin cells were removed in order to grow stem cells to see what they can learn about the underlying dysfunction of her retinas and brain. Crazy stuff! We are also sending them Leah's latest MRI images, so that they can look at her brain and see if they can learn anything from that. So, we know what is different about Leah, genetically speaking, and we assume that those genetic anomolies are the reason for her disabilities, and we are working on proving that theory. We also know that there is no reports of anyone else having this same translocation, which means, we can't compare or get an idea of Leah's future. We know that Leah has been fearfully and wonderfully made, and that God has led us to these wonderful doctors to find answers. Now, we just trust and wait on the Lord, knowing that He loves us and will be glorified in Leah's life.
Taking the visual acuity exam

They made some time for fun, while on their trip. And after a somewhat traumatic appointment (getting a skin biopsy is no fun!), Stephen and Leah tried their hardest to get home before Micah was born. Click here for that story!
Special dinner at a fancy restaurant in Washington, D.C.
Leah loved the big water slide at the hotel pool!
The final big event of the summer for Leah is the start of kindergarten! It's hard to believe that our little girl is going to elementary school! In some ways, it's not that big of a deal, though. I mean, she has been going to school for the last 2 years and riding the school bus both years. But, there is something different about being in kindergarten. Leah will get to go to resource (PE, art, music, and media), she has a daily behavior chart (which has had all happy faces all week long!), and if she misses school, we have to write a note. Leah will work on goals developed at her IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting at the end of the last school year. These goals include academic goals for reading and math and developmental goals for fine motor and gross motor development as well as communication development. Stephen and I were very involved with creating these goals and are excited to see what Leah accomplishes this year. We are also excited about her new school (both new to her and a new facility) and her new teacher (who seems wonderful), and that her friend, June, is in the same class!
Waiting for the bus!
Ready for a new school year!

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